Each day of the week offers a menu aimed at a different...

MENU PLANNER

April 01, 2001|By Susan Nicholson | Susan Nicholson,Universal Press Syndicate

Each day of the week offers a menu aimed at a different aspect of meal planning. There's a family meal, a kids' menu aimed at younger tastes, a heat-and-eat meal that recycles leftovers, a budget meal that employs a cost-cutting strategy, a meatless or "less meat" dish for people who may not be strict vegetarians but are trying to cut down on meat, an express meal that requires little or no preparation, and an entertaining menu that's quick.

SUNDAY / Family

Prepare Peppered Pork Tenderloin for the family feast today. Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a tiny bowl, combine 2 teaspoons lemon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper and rub all over a 1-pound well-trimmed pork tenderloin. Place in shallow roasting pan and roast 15 to 20 minutes or until internal temperature is 155 degrees. Let stand 5 minutes; slice and serve. Accompany the pork with orecchiette ("little ears") pasta tossed with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Add some color with Italian green beans (frozen). You'll want crusty bread. Buy a berry crisp for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough berry crisp for Monday.

MONDAY / Budget

Ground meat is a money-stretcher and so is this Lamb Loaf. Serve the loaf with couscous and steamed spinach. Add toasted pita bread. Serve with warm leftover crisp topped with fat-free whipped cream.

Plan ahead: Save half the loaf and enough pita bread for Tuesday.

Lamb Loaf

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour 40 minutes Standing time: 5 minutes

2 1/2 pounds lean ground lamb

1 medium chopped green bell pepper

1 medium chopped onion

1/2 cup finely chopped carrots

2 to 3 minced garlic cloves

4 egg whites

2 teaspoons each black pepper and dried basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 4-ounce package reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine lamb, bell pepper, onion, carrots, garlic, egg whites, black pepper, basil, rosemary and salt. Do not overmix. Spoon half the mixture into a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan and press down. Sprinkle with cheese and press remaining lamb mixture over cheese. Bake 1 1/2 hours; remove from pan, discarding drippings, and place on a rack in a broiler pan lined with foil. Spread tomato sauce over top of loaf; bake 10 more minutes. Cover and let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

Per serving: 252 calories, 34 grams protein, 9 grams fat (33 percent calories from fat), 3.7 grams saturated fat, 7 grams carbohydrate, 97 milligrams cholesterol, 616 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

TUESDAY / Heat & Eat

Make Stuffed Pitas tonight using leftover lamb loaf and pitas. Heat and crumble the lamb loaf and mix with 1/2 to 3 / 4 cup plain yogurt, sliced and seeded cucumber to taste, 1 teaspoon cumin and some chopped fresh mint and salt and pepper to taste. Stuff into pitas. Serve with store-bought tabbouleh from a mix. Munch on oatmeal cookies for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough cookies for Wednesday.

WEDNESDAY / Kids

Richmond, Va., reader Beth Adams says Sunshine Chicken is a favorite for the kids and adults at her house. Serve the easy chicken-rice combo with frozen tiny green peas and whole-wheat rolls. Fruit cocktail and leftover cookies are dessert.

Beth Adam's Sunshine Chicken

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 30 minutes Standing time: 5 minutes

2 to 3 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 / 4 teaspoon black pepper

6 4- or 5-ounce boneless skinless chicken breast halves

cooking spray

1 medium chopped onion

2 cups orange juice

1 / 4 cup water or fat-free chicken broth

1 cup uncooked long-grain rice

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard (or 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard)

chopped fresh parsley for garnish

In a small bowl, combine curry powder, salt and pepper. Rub seasonings all over chicken; set aside. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook onion 6 or 7 minutes or until softened. Add orange juice, water or broth, rice, sugar and mustard; mix well. Arrange chicken pieces over rice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with parsley.

Per serving: 298 calories, 30 g. protein, 2 g. fat (6 percent calories from fat), 0.5 g. saturated fat, 38 g. carbohydrate, 66 mg. cholesterol, 272 mg. sodium, 1 g. fiber.

THURSDAY / Express

Meat Balls With Marinara Sauce Over Spaghetti is a quick meal because you're using frozen meat balls and store-bought marinara sauce. Just follow the package directions, heat and eat. Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top. Pick up a packaged green salad and Italian bread. You might want cupcakes for dessert.

Dee Carona of Albany, N.Y., won a prize from Better Homes and Gardens magazine for her fiber-packed, low-low fat Italian Lentil Soup. You'll see why. Serve with mixed greens. Make Cheddar Cheese Loaf to accompany your meal.

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